Every now and then we get into a car that seems to grab attention wherever it goes.
So it has been with the Great Wall Motors (GWM) Ora.
Perhaps it was the combination of cute styling, a standout powder blue finish and then ew
Ora badge that looks much like an exclamation mark.
It drew comparisons with the New Beetle and old Nissan Micra and had us fielding
questions throughout the week.
Ora is GWM’s first EV and joins the growing list of affordable fully-electric compact
vehicles to come out of China, including the MG ZS EV, MG4, BYD Atto 3 and BYD
Dolphin – with more to come.
Although there is minimal difference in their height, for some reason Ora and MG4 are
classed as hatchbacks and the others as SUVs.
In some overseas markets it’s branded as the Ora Good Cat or Funky Cat, but in keeping
with GWM Australia’s primary brand strategy – here it’s simply GWM Ora.
Four variants are available, Standard Range, Extended Range, Ultra and GT.
Although we did come across a few people who baulked at the Ora’s distinctive looks,
most comment was positive, especially from younger people – although it’s probably out of
their price range.
The sloping bonnet has a couple of narrow decorative ribs in the centre and merges into
oval-shaped LED headlights with built-in turn indicators, with the new logo in the centre.
18-inch wheels are standard, with the GT getting its own design as well as GT-exclusive
bumpers and grille and red brake calipers.
Both Ultra and GT also add a powered tailgate and panoramic sunroof.
Five exterior two-tone colours are available.
The cabin has a real quality feel with a premium look to the uncluttered dashboard which is
dominated by twin 10.5-inch high definition coloured screens.
Entry is surprisingly easy for what is a small car. The quilted leatherette seats not only look
classy but are comfortable and supportive with both driver and front passenger getting
The front seats in the recently-added Ultra variant have massage, heating and ventilation.
The steering wheel is reach and height adjustable and visibility is excellent in all directions
with an automatic anti-glare rear-view mirror and large heated and power-adjustable door
Interior storage space is well positioned and functional with a deep, lidded box between
the front seats, behind a smartphone charging pad and clever narrow space that’s ideal for
stowing the key fob.
There are two USB ports and a 12-volt charging port at the base of the dash and a third
USB behind the front seats for rear passengers.
As seems to be a trend in Chinese vehicles, we found that there are too many commonly-
used features, such as audio and air conditioning controls, that can be accessed only
through one or other of the screens.
There are four toggle keys below the screen, but they only turn the air on or off as well as
the front and rear demisters.
The rear seats are as comfortable as the fronts with reasonable leg and foot room and
There’s a foldable armrest with twin drink-holders and a USB charging port at the base of
the front seats.
The spacious cabin does limit boot space, with just 228 litres when the rear seats are in
place, expanding to 858 litres when folded.
Unlike some other EVs there is no storage space under the bonnet.
Ora is powered by a single electric motor that generates 126kW of power and 250Nm of
Standard Range comes with a 48kWh battery, while Extended Range, Ultra and GT all get
a larger 63kWh battery.
Range from the 48kWh battery under the WLTP testing cycle is up to 310km, rising to
420km with the 63kWh battery.
The charging point is at the front on the passenger side and there are AC and DC sockets
with a maximum of 11kWh from the AC charger or 80kW with DC.
Charging the 48kW battery from a standard 7kW charger will take around seven hours or
about five hours from an 11kW charger.
A 50kW rapid charger will get from 10 to 80-percent capacity in just 41 minutes ( 50
minutes with the 63kW battery).
Although time is running out, GWM is offering a free charging station valued at $1690 for
anyone purchasing an Extended Range, Ultra or GT model.
Installation is extra and while the offer expires at the end of September – it’s always worth
haggling with your dealer.
Ora was tested by ANCAP in February, 2023 and received a maximum five-star safety
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, autonomous emergency braking with
pedestrian, cyclist and crossing detection and adaptive cruise control with stop and go
plus blind spot monitoring.
There’s just about every lane control feature ever made including lane change assist, lane
departure warning, lane keep assist, lane centre keeping and emergency lane keep.
Other important safety features include forward collision warning, rear cross traffic alert,
rear collision warning, traffic sign recognition, driver drowsiness detection, 360 degree
around-view camera and rear parking sensors.
The dashboard has adjacent 10.25-inch screens, a full colour interactive instrument cluster
on the right and multimedia touchscreen on the left.
With so many features and controls embedded within the two screens there was a lot to
learn and tiny fonts don’t help.
For those, like me, who don’t need glasses to drive but do need them to read, it meant
trying to memorise as much as possible prior to hitting the road.
The standard screen display uses light green characters on a light grey background, but
produced little contrast and was difficult to read.
Fortunately, the night setting with its black background was much better and we used it all
Wired Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and wireless smartphone charging are all standard.
The fun factor in the Great Wall Ora starts even before you get inside with a light show
featuring flashing and rotating white and orange front lights and a vertical bar at the rear.
There’s no push button stop/start in the Ora, but once you’re inside the car somehow
knows to power up.
And it’s good to go once you’ve selected either forward or reverse from the rotary gear
selector in the centre console.
Putting that aside the little Ora is a really enjoyable car to drive.
Like other EVs it combines silent running with instant torque. Its relatively compact
dimensions combined with a bright and surprisingly spacious interior takes away much of
the drudgery of urban driving.
Ora cruises smoothly and comfortably on the motorway with its sharp acceleration making
for fast and safe overtaking.
Out on the open road the ride and handling are impressive with only a little, but acceptable
body-roll when cornering.
There are three brake regeneration levels as well as a one-pedal option which will bring
the vehicle to a complete halt without using the brake pedal.
Unfortunately, any change to the levels needs to be made through the infotainment screen
rather than with steering wheel paddles as is the case in some other vehicles.
We tested the claimed 420km range and found it to be quite accurate.
In our 87km trip to Sydney to return the car, in a mix of motorway and suburban
conditions, the range dropped by 94km.
In the past, when asked for an opinion on electric vehicles – and its easily the most
commonly asked question – our standard reply has been to hold off until the prices come
down and the driving range goes up. Say, three or four years from now.
With the rapid growth in the number and variety of Chinese EVs arriving here and
consequent increase in competition bringing down prices to just over $40,000 driveaway
and a range over 400km, that time is rapidly decreasing.
With its combination of cute styling, competitive price and seven-year / unlimited kilometre
warranty, the GWM Ora is certain to make its mark and become one of the major
contenders in what is sure to become an important market segment.
AT A GLANCE
Ora Standard Range: $39,990
Ora Extended Range: $45,990
Ora Ultra: $48,990
Ora GT: $51,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local GWM dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (GWM Ora Extended Range electric five-door hatchback)
Single synchronous electric motor, 63 kWh lithium-ion battery
Combined energy consumption: 14.8 kWh / 100 km
Maximum Power: 115 kW
Maximum Torque: 280 Nm
DRIVELINE: Single motor, front-wheel drive
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4235 mm
Wheelbase: 2650 mm
Width: 1825 mm
Turning Circle: 11.2 metres
Kerb Wight: 1580kg
Range: 420 km
Front: Ventilated Disc
Rear: Solid Disc
Seven years / unlimited kilometres